The Best Online Paralegal Programs

Amy Boyington
Updated March 28, 2024
Edited by
Paralegal bachelor's programs cover legal research and other key law concepts. Discover the best online paralegal programs to jumpstart your career.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Although lawyers get much of the credit in the courtroom, paralegals are often behind much of the work that goes into building a solid legal case.

Paralegals provide essential services to law professionals, like conducting legal research, organizing information into detailed reports, and summarizing testimony. The nature of their work requires paralegals to have extensive knowledge of law and legal practices.

A quality education in paralegal studies can result in a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree. Discover what the best online paralegal programs offer future paralegals and what to expect from these programs.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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10 Best Online Paralegal Programs

#1 The Best Online Paralegal Programs

National University

  • Location-markerSan Diego, CA
  • 4 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$13,320
  • Out-of-state$13,320
  • Retention Rate100%
  • Acceptance Rate55%
  • Students Enrolled17,135
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment80%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 The Best Online Paralegal Programs

University of Massachusetts Global

  • Location-markerIrvine, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$12,000
  • Out-of-state$12,000
  • Retention Rate19%
  • Acceptance Rate93%
  • Students Enrolled9,798
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment99%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 The Best Online Paralegal Programs

Purdue University Global

  • Location-markerWest Lafayette, IN
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$10,080
  • Out-of-state$13,356
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled43,458
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment100%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 The Best Online Paralegal Programs

Florida Gulf Coast University

  • Location-markerFort Myers, FL
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,191
  • Out-of-state$22,328
  • Retention Rate82%
  • Acceptance Rate89%
  • Students Enrolled15,909
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment46%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 The Best Online Paralegal Programs

University of Providence

  • Location-markerGreat Falls, MT
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$26,462
  • Out-of-state$26,462
  • Retention Rate58%
  • Acceptance Rate100%
  • Students Enrolled888
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment100%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 The Best Online Paralegal Programs

Eastern Kentucky University

  • Location-markerRichmond, KY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$9,452
  • Out-of-state$19,724
  • Retention Rate74%
  • Acceptance Rate98%
  • Students Enrolled13,984
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment73%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 The Best Online Paralegal Programs

Madonna University

  • Location-markerLivonia, MI
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$24,900
  • Out-of-state$24,900
  • Retention Rate68%
  • Acceptance Rate52%
  • Students Enrolled2,444
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment72%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 The Best Online Paralegal Programs

Davenport University

  • Location-markerGrand Rapids, MI
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$20,064
  • Out-of-state$20,064
  • Retention Rate78%
  • Acceptance Rate98%
  • Students Enrolled5,384
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment81%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 The Best Online Paralegal Programs

Roger Williams University

  • Location-markerBristol, RI
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$37,025
  • Out-of-state$37,025
  • Retention Rate81%
  • Acceptance Rate91%
  • Students Enrolled4,529
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment43%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 The Best Online Paralegal Programs

SUNY College of Technology at Canton

  • Location-markerCanton, NY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$7,070
  • Out-of-state$13,830
  • Retention Rate71%
  • Acceptance Rate95%
  • Students Enrolled2,863
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment82%
  • AccreditationYes

Types of Paralegal Programs


  • 6-12 months
  • Credit or non-credit options
  • Average annual cost of $2,540
  • Requires high school diploma or GED certificate
  • Post-baccalaureate program requires bachelor’s degree

Associate Degree

  • Two years
  • 60 credits
  • Average annual cost of $3,560
  • Requires high school diploma or GED certificate

Bachelor’s Degree

  • Four years
  • 120 credits
  • Average annual cost of $16,010
  • Requires high school diploma or GED certificate
  • Degree completion program requires previous college credit

Students interested in online paralegal programs can earn a paralegal certificate, a paralegal associate degree, or a paralegal bachelor’s degree.

A paralegal certificate provides the basic qualifications for paralegal positions. These programs, which can be undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, or graduate level, focus primarily on core concepts in the field.

While some programs confer a non-credit paralegal certificate, others award credit that learners can apply toward an associate, bachelor’s, or graduate degree. Depending on the program, students can earn a paralegal certificate in as few as six months.

Students earning an associate in paralegal studies online complete major courses and general education requirements. Students in these two-year programs gain more foundational knowledge than learners in paralegal certificate programs.

Associate coursework often covers topics including English, communications, math, and foreign languages. Online paralegal associate degrees may offer concentration options and often include an internship or practicum experience, which may be optional or mandatory.

A bachelor’s in paralegal studies usually takes four years to finish 120 credits. Students complete some general education courses, like composition and communications, but most classes are major-specific, covering concepts like criminal procedures, estate planning, and civil litigation.

Some bachelor’s programs require internships where students gain on-the-job skills and firsthand experience of a paralegal’s daily responsibilities.

Courses in an Online Paralegal Certificate Program

  • Essential Skills for Paralegals: This course introduces students to the legal field, including legal terminology. Learners study real legal cases and prepare to interview clients and identify different types of evidence. Students also learn how to use legal research tools and prepare summonses.
  • The Legal Environment: Students learn basic skills for working in law firms, including how to track billable hours and maintain client files. The course also covers the ABA rules of ethics, to which all attorneys must adhere. Students learn how to access state and federal court files using Lexis and Westlaw.
  • Civil Litigation: Students explore legal theory and practical legal skills. The class covers the entire legal process of a civil case, including the client interview and the post-judgement. Students learn how to preserve evidence, draft pleadings, draft interrogatories and requests, create digests, and draft motions.

Courses in an Online Paralegal Degree Program

  • Legal Systems and Terminology: This introductory course helps students gain basic skills, such as summarizing and analyzing court cases and filing cases in the court system. The class covers legal terms that attorneys and paralegals use every day. Students also learn how to access resources in a law library.
  • Legal Ethics: Students learn about the ethical rules that apply to legal professionals. Coursework covers rules of professional conduct, conflicts of interest, and how to protect confidentiality. Learners study the Washington Rules of Professional Conduct. They also learn how to appropriately use of electronic communications, including emails and social media.
  • Legal Research and Writing: This course teaches students how to research statutes and analyze court decisions. Students learn how to use case digests to find state and federal cases. They also examine the proper format and language for legal documents. Students learn to write citations in accordance with the Washington Style Sheet and Uniform System of Citations.

ABA Approval of Online Paralegal Programs

Though paralegals cannot receive certification from the American Bar Association (ABA), they can earn their education from ABA-approved paralegal programs. Because the ABA requires programs to meet a difficult set of criteria, ABA approval demonstrates high quality.

Based on input from legal professionals, corporations, government agencies, and local bar associations, ABA-approved programs feature curricula designed to prepare paralegals for the workforce. A degree from an ABA-approved program is an attractive credential for job-seekers. Only about 25% of the country’s paralegal associate and bachelor’s programs hold ABA approval.

Choosing the Best Online Paralegal Program for You

Educational outcomes and learning experience vary by program, so students pursuing an online paralegal degree or certificate should research their options before selecting a school. Because earning a college degree or certificate requires significant financial and time commitments, students should choose an accredited online paralegal program that helps them achieve their career goals.

The list below includes crucial factors to consider when evaluating prospective schools.

check-circleProgram Cost: The cost of earning a degree or certificate depends on various factors. In-state learners often pay lower tuition rates than out-of-state students, and online students may save money on tuition, transportation, and housing. Part-time learners typically pay more overall, although their cost per semester may prove lower than that for full-time students.

check-circleTransfer Policies: Accredited institutions rarely accept credits earned through unaccredited schools. Learners planning to transfer to a four-year school after earning an associate or certificate should research prospective schools’ transfer agreements and policies before enrolling.

Additionally, students with previous academic or professional experience should look for schools with generous transfer policies or options to receive credit for work experience.

check-circleSchool Size and Type: Some students prefer small class sizes, while others enjoy the resources and extracurricular activities available on larger campuses. Schools generally provide information about average class sizes and student-to-teacher ratios.

Private schools typically offer smaller class sizes than public schools. However, private colleges tend to list higher tuition rates than public institutions.

check-circleProgram Length: Students planning to earn a certificate or a degree in paralegal studies online should consider each prospective program’s length. Paralegal certificate programs generally take about six months to complete, whereas an online paralegal associate degree typically takes two years. Each student’s program completion time depends on their personal situation and enrollment status. Part-time students typically take longer to graduate than full-time students.

check-circleOn-Campus Requirements: Students who take classes on campus must regularly commute to school. Learners considering on-campus or hybrid programs should ensure that they can fit these synchronous obligations into their schedule. Students pursuing on-campus learning should also choose a school with a reasonable commute or factor the cost of relocation into their budget.

What Do Paralegals Do?

Paralegals help lawyers prepare solid cases. They gather information, conduct research on relevant laws and legal precedents, write reports, organize documents, and contact clients for interviews.

While they assist lawyers, paralegals cannot perform acts that require a legal license, including offering legal advice and setting legal fees.

Generalist paralegals often work in small law firms. They must know about a variety of legal areas and prove adept at performing many tasks. Aspiring paralegals can also specialize in a certain area or pursue certification in a niche. Common specialization areas for paralegals include:

  • Corporate
  • Criminal Defense
  • Environmental Law
  • Estate Planning and Probate
  • Family Law
  • Immigration
  • Intellectual Property
  • Litigation
  • Real Estate

Paralegal vs. Legal Assistant

Law offices and professional organizations often use the terms “paralegal” and “legal assistant” interchangeably. Firms may use the term legal assistant to describe the nature of a paralegal’s job, which includes assisting legal professionals with cases.

Legal secretaries, on the other hand, have fewer responsibilities and more limitations than paralegals. Legal secretaries Typically, answer phone calls, manage front desks at law offices, and forward memos.

Salary Information for Paralegals

Paralegals and Legal Assistants

Median Salary (May 2022)


Employment Growth (2022-32)


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Paralegal Salary by Industry
IndustryMedian Salary (May 2022)
Finance and insurance$73,050
Federal government$72,320
Local government$58,000
Legal services$57,250
State government$50,310
Source: BLS
Paralegal Salary by Specialization
Job TitleAverage Salary (February 2024)
Intellectual Property Paralegal$75,681
Corporate Paralegal$71,104
Litigation Paralegal$61,445
Real Estate Paralegal$58,340
Immigration Paralegal$55,514
Source: Payscale (as of February 2024)

Becoming a Certified Paralegal

While the profession does not require certification, certification typically leads to more career opportunities for paralegals. Many employers require or prefer paralegals with professional certification.

To become a certified paralegal, candidates must meet the educational requirements of the certifying organization and must pass one or more certification exams. Some associate programs feature curricula designed to meet certification standards.

Paralegal Certification Exams

Candidates for paralegal certifications must typically pass an exam, such as:

  • The Paralegal Core Competencies Exam
  • The Certified Paralegal/Certified Legal Assistant Exam
  • The Professional Paralegal Exam

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Paralegal Programs

A paralegal program can take anywhere from six months to four years to finish, depending on whether you pursue a certificate or degree. While you can complete a paralegal certificate in as little as six months, bachelor’s degrees in paralegal studies usually take four years.

Most paralegal positions require an associate degree in paralegal studies, making it a popular choice for prospective paralegals. However, government agencies and large law offices may require a bachelor’s degree.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the highest demand for paralegals occurs in the legal services industry — making finance, family law, estate planning, and other service-focused paralegals among the most sought-after. Some of the highest-employing industries for paralegals also include local, state, and federal government agencies, highlighting the demand for government paralegals.

Paralegals are challenged daily with meeting strict deadlines, paying close attention to details, and multitasking, which can lead to stressful work environments, especially in large corporations or law offices. Paralegals working in smaller settings who complete many of the same daily tasks may sometimes find their jobs monotonous.

BLS data from May 2022 shows that paralegals in the scientific research industry earn an average annual wage of $108,350, making them the top paralegal earners. Other high-paying industries for paralegals include petroleum and coal manufacturing, library and information services, and computer manufacturing, all of which pay an average of more than $102,000 a year.